THE FORESEEABLE END OF THE AVAILABILITY OF GOVERNMENT FUNDED COVID-19 VACCINES 

Azariah Bridgewater, Class of 2024, Belmont Law

From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic until now, federal funding has fronted the cost for all persons within the United States to receive vaccines and boosters without payment or proof of insurance. The widespread availability of free COVID-19 vaccines may, however, come to a halt in early 2023 since Congress has not made any plans to fund the purchase of additional vaccines. Consequently, pharmaceutical companies, such as Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc., have begun taking steps to commercialize the sale of vaccines and vaccine-related products.

The commercialization of COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments means that they will become available through typical healthcare channels. One byproduct of this transition is that pharmaceutical companies are likely to increase vaccine costs. For example, the federal government currently pays approximately $16.50 per dose of the Moderna vaccine. Once the vaccine is commercialized, Moderna’s CEO anticipates a $60 cost associated for each dose. This forty-dollar price increase will inevitably lead to higher healthcare insurance premiums. 

While many healthcare insurance premiums are likely to increase, the uninsured may soon find that they are unable to obtain vaccination or other COVID-19 treatments. Although federal government officials in charge of managing the transition between federally and privately funded vaccine availability do not desire restricted vaccine access for the uninsured, it is currently unclear what options the uninsured will have. What we know now is that Congress intends to lighten the burden of vaccine and treatment costs through cost-sharing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention intends to provide vaccines for uninsured adults and children as long as funding lasts, and the Association of Immunization Managers is dedicated to make sure that the vaccine and COVID-19 related resources are available to all who need them. 

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